Monday, February 20, 2006

So What’s This About Muslims and Patents?

The Dinocrat and Planck’s Constant disagree on the invention inventory in the Muslim world. In his post "How does the modern world look when you have done nothing to help create it, and innovation is a threat to cherished beliefs?" (linked above) the former points to the paucity of Islam’s contributions to the world:

Americans have been messing around and creating things throughout the history of the nation. We take it for granted that people are fiddling around in their garages inventing oscilloscopes or wonder drugs or extreme sports. But what would it be like to live in a land where people invented nothing, where technology came to you as though from Mars? More than this: what if that constant progress and tinkering represented a threat to the sufficiency of the founding documents of your culture and religion? Judging by the numbers, that is apparently the current state of thought in some major Islamic countries. Take Saudi Arabia, which recently went six years without granting a patent.
MicrosoftMuslim “Au contraire,” says Planck’s Constant (that’s French for “hold it right there, bub”). He then proceeds to defend his argument with examples:

I have to disagree [with Dinocrat's thesis]. There are many, many creative inventions in Islam, but they are unrecorded because most simply do not apply for a patent.

For instance, there is the very clever and portable Microsoft customer-service-center made from an old scissor sharpening platform.
Unfortunately for his clever notion, this is one case where the words are worth more than the picture.

Dinocrat gives us some appalling statistics:

  • The Saudis only opened a Patent Office in 1990
  • In 1996, they granted their first patent.
  • In 2001, Iran had one patent (who needs patent when you have BOMB?)
  • In 1997,the US had 111,805 patents
  • In the last five years, Indonesia filed 30 patents.
In other words, says Dino, rather heatedly:

Remember this pathetic performance the next time some bonehead tries to argue cultural equivalency to you. How dare these people try to impose their ways on us, or dictate anything about the way we should live. Theirs is a formula for poverty, stagnation and misery. Imagine: over a billion people, and they have fewer patents in their entire recorded history than did the citizens of Utah last year.
I think that settles it, though I am sure there are a billion or so who would argue with me. Oh, I forgot: 11th Century breaking news -- Arabs invent zero. 20th century -- Arabs invent zero zilch. 21st Century -- Arabs beg, borrow, steal incendiary devices, or improvise, using airplanes and bodies.

Imagine if they corralled all that effort into creativity? But how can you be creative when submission is your only tool? Oh, right: submission permits you to be murderously creative.

As long as you're killing something -- why create away, brother!


Eleanor © said...

Jizya, the tax paid by non-Muslims because they are deserving and non-Muslims are not. The benefit of Western invention used by the Muslim world is a form of the Jizya, a way to keep Islam going from earliest times. For this reason, many non-Muslims will not be encouraged to convert (revert) as the Muslim world needs the Jizya, in all forms.

mts said...

Dymphna, this is one subject that I'm glad to see someone else finally mention. I've been saying for a while now how the Islamic world, after its hundred or so years of conquest, had in fact captured the majority of the existing cultures that were up to that point: Egypt, part of Greek culture (the outer Byzantine lands), a good part of Old Rome, Syria, Persia, a big chunk of India, Mesopotamia. The West just had Rome, which once it fell, was just its shadow self.

Did the ummah put all of that mental treasure together and put a man on the moon by the year 1200? Did it have an agricultural and an industrial revolution? They just turned their lands into what they are today - dust. Our people live cleaner and healthier than our Dark and Middle Ages nobility did; their people live pretty much like they did 1400 years ago, except in "Westernized" parts. The West had its renaissance (once it got to reopen shipping lanes the Moors had been choking) and recreated the world in 500 years. They invented the zero all right. We used it as a cotter pin for our advanced mathematics. They used it for, well, help me here...

I don't know another cultural influence that was as stifling as being part of the ummah. Communism was just as bad (they wouldn't have had the inclination to invent anything if it wasn't for the cold war with the West), but luckily it died in a century.

Baron Bodissey said...

A minor quibble, tcobb & mts, but Dymphna should know better. Strictly speaking, the Arabs did not invent the zero (nor did the Babylonians). It was a Hindu invention, borrowed by the Arabs along with the algebra. So you could say that they imported it for us.

India, of course, continues to produce some of the world's best mathematicians.

The Arabs remind me of an old quote from David Bowie: "I'm not an original artist; I'm a tasteful thief."

It's not just what we Westerners invent. It's what we do with other people's inventions. Borrow them, modify them, recombine them in new ways, think of new uses for them...

Just look what we did with gunpowder. When Western Man saw fireworks in China he said, "Huh! I bet I could use that to blow stuff up! Yeehah!"

Conan The Librarian said...

Right! Submi tto Allah you kaffirs..then..then what? GO back to the 7th century? Does NO one look beyond the threats and see what miserable shit-holes the Muslim countries are. Even non-countries like "Palestine". They make Nazi Germany look good.

mts said...

Baron, thanks for clearing that up for me. Man, now Muslims don't even have the zero to claim. Ouch. The irony of this is that, look at the lands that Islam rules, (and once ruled, like the Baltics). These lands in antiquity held the cultures that made for the brains that made civilization. It seems the Jews are the only ones to come out of that with their smarts.

There's no racial inferiority to the Muslim countries at all, they just get raised in the system that stunts them, instead of nurturing. It's this system that will return us all to the stone age and erase 5000 years of advancement if allowed to take over everything. The Japanese would be just as uninventive as, say, the Palestinians or Jordanians, if they were raised that way, unlike the incredible innovators they've been in their current society. Amazing how well Muslims do academically and economically once they come here and flourish in the infidel state - they're no dummies at all.

Dymphna said...

one psychological theorist says that there is a Darwinian nature to the human mind and that its main anxiety is death, death in three forms: predator death, existential death, and then the death incurred when we are the predator.

This last, which makes the violent even more violent because of what they have done (and thus "know" in a cellular way that they "deserve" death --and the only way to allay that last anxiety is more killing. Or suicide bombing, which is the perfect resolution in such a culture.

Islam is a culture of death. In the struggle between Eros and Thanatos, Eros lost. By the time the Islamofascist's kids reach their majority they have been trained in predator death. It must be exquisitely painful to live that way. If it weren't they wouldn't be compelled to dhimmify others.

What a sickness. Even the old fire and brimstone preachers of cult Christianity never came anywhere near that level of lethality.

Islam extremism is radioactive all by itself.

Dymphna said...

Liberal Hawk:

Nowhere in the post -- or in the posts linked to -- do I say what you imply.

Muslims left to their own devices in a free country will act accordingly. However, Islam does not, in any of its precepts, encourage curiosity or experimentation. In order to get there, one goes secular. Just as many Christians had to to get free of orthodoxy...

...and now free, some are able to return on their on terms, as are some Jews. But Islam? How do you encourage submission and curiosity at the same time without making a person crazy?

Your friend certainly couldn't have filed those patents in Saudi Arabia. Or Indonesia. Or Pakistan. Or Iran.

I did make my point clearly. Nowhere do I use statistics from this country that say what Muslims have had patented here. Because we don't keep those sorts of records.

My statistics come from Islamic countries and they do break down by religion since Islam is the solely acceptable religion in many of those countries.

Muslims are not stupid, nor did I imply they were. Their culture stunts intelligence and the inherent fear causes cognitive is beyond sad.

I am not anti-Muslim. I am anti-jihad, anti-misogyny, anti-Islamicism.

And I will continue to point out Islam's deficits. Before 9/11 I didn't particularly care what they did because they didn't do it to me. Felt sorry for Israel, but, with good old Darwinian mechanisms at work, it didn't impinge on me.

I also thought Europe was doomed because of its socialism, but I failed to look at its Muslim populations and the conclusions one could draw.

But now, post 9/11, I do care and I will continue to care as long as these jihadists are in our midst and a danger to our commonweal.

I take them at their word: they want to make the world over for Allah, and if a few million die in the process, no problem.

I don't trust them not to attempt to destroy us and I don't trust our leaders to take care of the situation. One side is the frying pan, the other the fire.

Good on your Muslim friend, but his 25 patents don't change those billion Muslims who haven't managed to cobble even ONE patent together.

Special pleading is not a valid argument. Surely as an engineer you know that? I know a black pediatric neurosurgeon. So tell me, does his intelligence, education, and skilled dedication make the American black experience with higher education any different?

kevin said...

Arafat invented hijacking and suicide belts, but I'm not sure if they are patented.

Wally Ballou said...

I think this is the kind of discussion that can easily give the wrong impression. Dymphna has made some valuable qualifications of her point. It's not the racial quality of Msulims or even the religion of Islam that thwarts scientific enquiry - it is the character of the societies and the states they currently inhabit.

Coomenters seem intent on asserting that not only is Islamic culture not intellectually fertile now, but that it never was. This is simply not true.Don't minimize the role of Islamic scholarship in the past - during the dark ages of Europe, as well as keeping alive the works of the Greeks, Islamic scholars were doing interesting and valuable work in optics, medicine, mathematics, astronomy and other sciences.

Alhazen, who is on the new Iraqi 10,000 Dinar note, did important original work in optics that was not improved upon until the time of Roger Bacon (no, he didn't "invent" optics - nobody did).

Islamic science stalled when the religion and culture of Islam stalled.

The idea of socities "stealing" from each other is way overblown. Reminds me of those Harvard professors who claim all of Western Civilization was "stolen" from the Africans. Ideally, every culture should borrow freely from every other culture.

Take a look at the names of the people who are actually granted patents in the US these days - a huge percentage of them have foreign-sounding names, and many are Islamic. the rest are Asian. most of the kids who were born here are too lazy to compete (how's that for a gross generalization?)

I'm a big fan of western culture, but I don't see much good coming out of this kind of cultural analysis.

Baron Bodissey said...

Cato's making a good point. As I emphasized above, it's the free and unfettered borrowing that makes our culture so successful. Maybe it derives from the characteristics of the English language, which is a ravenous borrower of words.

In any case, it's not race and it's not religion. The word "culture" covers a mysterious concept. The Japanese culture was insular, reactionary, and unreceptive to the idea of change until the late 19th century. Five generations pass, and look at the difference.

My theory is that almost any culture is a chaotic system, prone to sudden and complete change with no warning, and inherently unpredictable.

But if Jinnderella is right, and Islam (not just the religion, but the political system & culture) is an Evolutionarily Stable Strategy, then it is an exception, and, by its own system definitions, vigorously resistant to change. It is due for cataclysmic change, but it will probably have to come from without.

I have no idea how that will happen. We can't make war on over a billion people.

Dymphna said...

"Carnage and Culture," dear Baron.

We may indeed be perceived to make war on a billion people.

Especially the members of that billion who knock on the front door,or sneak in the window, or fly into the office wall, and attempt to work out their salvation on our family's bodies.

Remember that Jewish boy last month in France who was kidnapped and tortured to death for days before finally being set on fire? Now who do we think did this?? And why do we conjecture that they did it?

Given enough individual actions, this kind of behavior can make a whole tribe hard to warm up to.

Baron Bodissey said...

My dear Dymphna, Queen o' the Blogosphere --

We still can't make war on all of them. Can't kill them all. Probably can't convert enough of them, either.

Something has to happen, but I can't quite see what it will be. If the masses of Muslims perceive Islam itself as being grievously humiliated, shamed, and dishonored, then what happens?

Anybody else got any ideas?

Unknown said...

I may as well add to the discussion that the concept of zero was also invented independently by the Maya. This invention of course didn't affect Europeans.

Baron Bodissey said...

John B --

There are some people who theorize that the seed of the Mayan culture came from China via a route along the Asian littoral and down the west coast of North America.

No definitive archeological evidence has been found, to my knowledge, but supposedly a Chinese coin of (I think) the first millenium was found on the coast of Chile.

I'm relying on memory, though; no sources to cite.

El Jefe Maximo said...

Okay, I have to ask...what is the one Iranian patent ?

Joseph Marshall said...

For all this looking down of noses there is one thing entirely missing from this discussion, and it is called "colonialism".

Much of the backward character of the predominantly Muslim world was created when the European Great Powers carved it all up to strip it of its resources.

We should remember, in this regard, that the Muslim world actually stretches from Morroco to the Phillipines and from Uzbekistan to Sub-Saharan Africa.

Most of this part of the world has never fully recovered from this resource exploiting process, which was actually still going on, even in "independent" Muslim nation states, all the way up to the formation of OPEC.

Countries such as Kuwait, Iraq, and Jordan, for example, have totally arbitrary boundaries, with no particular relation to the history, ethnicity, and cultures of the region. And we wonder why they cannot transform themselves into the next South Korea or Japan?

Whatever advantage we have in inventiveness [which I frankly think we are fast losing] it is the fact that we began our development of mature capitalist institutions well back into the 19th Century that is the real difference. Organize an economy, and the inventions will come.

At the time we were doing this, the Europeans were "painting the map red" and Muslims were largely living passively in the places so painted. So far, only India, of all these former colonial domains, is truly breathing down our neck.

But give them time.

bernie said...

before the shah left, there were to my count at least 16,615 Iranian patents, most of them during the Shah's reign. I am waiting for an Iranian Attorney to get back to me on the single patent you ask about.

bernie said...

the last comment I left was pointed at the last two comments. First to answer the one regarding the single Iran patent and second that Iran was doing fine with Patents until Islam took over. Then it went into hibernation. So all the mumbo-jumbo about carving up and leaving Muslims disenfranchised doesn't seem to be the problem. Iran, which was not carved up, was doing fine until the Mullahs took over - which is the point.

Dymphna said...

Well, as grateful as I am for being more informed now, it is a bittersweet gratitude: you've taken one of my cherished (if ignorant) myths about Islam and the zero.

So now what do they have, huh? You took everything, right down to the last placeholder.


Dymphna said...

el jefe max--

I don't know what that one Iranian patent was. A new form of taqiyyah, maybe...but that would be a trademark, not a patent...'d have to go back to Dinocrat (link is in post) and ask him. Maybe like the Muslim zero, it's a phantom...

Speaking of Iran, I was hoping people would look at the list of the clever things that Iran has done (via the Officers' Club) and come up with a few more...I know there must be more than seven.

One I can think of is to put a whack job in charge of things just to scare everybody.

Don Miguel said...

"during the dark ages of Europe, as well as keeping alive the works of the Greeks, Islamic scholars were doing interesting and valuable work in optics, medicine, mathematics, astronomy and other sciences."

Yes, and some of those "Islamic scholars" were actually converts by force, so they were'nt exactly educated in an Islamic system.